Wader ringing

This week has been lovely. I’ve been able to see my lovely auntie Kathy and saw my cousin Megan and my cheeky nephew Max. It’s always so nice getting to see people when you don’t get to see them a lot!

I also got some really good and exciting news this week. The research I did in Kenya for my masters has been accepted for publication. Soon it will be out for all the world to see. I’m really proud of this. This project made me realise how much I wanted to pursue a career in research and I guess it led me down the path I’m on today. When I get the final web address I’ll be posting it up here so if anyone is interested they can have a read.

The best part of my week was today. Me, Jake and Ingrid, who I usually do bird ringing with, went to North Wales to do some wader ringing with the scan ringing group. It’s really exciting because the method for catching the birds is so different to the normal mist nets we use for the song birds. This method is canon netting and involved a net being catapulted above the birds and catching them underneath. This was done on the shore line today, the target catch was oystercatcher. We waited quietly in the cars until all the birds were in the safe zone for the net to be fired. After the huge bang, we drove down the beach, got out and ran to the net. We then methodically extract all of the birds that have been caught. I had a lovely lady called Rachel helping me with the technique for extracting in this way. It’s very different from what I am used to and so I was very happy to be shown what to do. In total we caught 17 dunlin, 15 redshank and 34 oystercatcher. This was really nice because they are all different sizes and completely different to look at. When the birds are waiting to be processed they are kept in a type of holding pen where it is dark and quiet to keep them relaxed. When you put your hand inside it like a bird version of lucky dip! I’d say it was hard to choose my favourite species from today. The oystercatchers are amazing to look at up close, especially the adults. They have bright red eyes, pink feet and their bills are yellow and orange. They kind of reminded me of a calipo ice lolly! One downside though, they poo a lot and I’m afraid to say, my right leg was covered! Dunlin on the other hand don’t. These are tiny, brownish grey and white birds with dainty, slender bills. They look so beautiful up close and when they all fly together in a flock over the sea it almost reminds me of glitter. They seem to shimmer. Redshank are bigger than dunlin. Gorgeous reddish orange legs that stand tall below them, and a similar coloured beak. They look very elegant and have a gorgeous call when they are in flight. Anyway…. we enjoyed the sunshine on our faces and the nice sea air and headed back once everything was finished.

I’m now a tired little Amie. The sea air does you wonders of good but it makes me feel shattered. In a good way though.

It was such a lovely way to end the week, I’m feeling very positive about the one ahead.

Xx

Thankyou, Mother Nature.

Another week has gone by. The house finally feels like normal again after the burglary which is nice!

I’ve been on a couple of lovely walks this week. I love being outdoors. I get to practice IDing tree species which is actually really nice. Thing is, birds move, so sometimes you just get a glimpse. But trees stay still and you can really study them and get a feel for their characters. My favourite tree is Rowan, but I think I also have a soft spot for huge oaks!

I’ve seen lots of family members this week. That’s what I love about being home. I get lots of hugs and lots of tea and lots of laughs.

I had a fleeting visit from one of my best friends, Sav. It was a dramatic visit as we actually ended up assisting a woman who kept fainting and had hit her head. The cafe rewarded our good deed with a free lunch!

Today I’ve been bird ringing. We met just after 5 and had a solid 8 hour session. The highlights were tree pipits and a Whitethroat. Although the goldcrests and tree creepers always make me happy. We had a mini forage about half way through for blackberries and whinberries to put with some meringue and cream. A proper summer treat on such a humid day!

A side note to my bird ringing day. The Whitethroat we caught was a lovely bird. Elegant looking and a bit different to what we usually get. When we were getting the different measurements, we noticed it had built up a good fat store. This means this bird is nearly ready for its big journey back to Africa. The bird was a young bird, born this year and it is about to make a journey over thousands of miles. I find moments with such animals grounding and calming. Lately I’ve been feeling pretty anxious. Life seems to be throwing a lot at me and my family but this bird put a few things into perspective for me. It is small but so strong and determined. It gave me a burst of positivity! I think it’s nice to find positivity from nature and what surrounds us. I know it might sound like a hippy rant, but I believe it. We are surrounded by beauty in all sorts of shapes, sizes and forms. I’m very thankful for our gorgeous wildlife. I wish that Whitethroat so much luck on its big journey ahead!

Anyway, that’s all for now!

X

Kıbrıs life

It’s been two weeks since my last post and it’s all been lovely. My Mum has been out so I’ve had some company for my birding!

We finally finished checking all the Roller nest boxes. Gosh they poo lots!! I was pointing out different species along the way. We saw some glossy ibis which was nice and my Mum’s favourite, Bee eaters!

I’ve done a few wetland surveys but it’s really strange doing them at this time of year! So many are completely dry! But they still have spur winged plovers hanging around. The best one I’ve done in this stay is Agluga. 100’s of cattle egret nesting, a few black-crowned night heron and my first ever Squacco heron! It was amazing!

Me and Mum have enjoyed our mountain wanders too. Early mornings are so calm and peaceful.

One night we went to Roots Bar and met up with Paul and Michelle. We played loads of pool and the next day was pretty much a write off for me!! Damn rum and cokes!!!

In between I’ve been doing PhD work. Starting to look at some interesting results now which is always exciting! Preparing for the conference next month.

Sav came back so I got to see him a few times which was lovely. He came over to watch the football with us all. My first England match of the World Cup! It’s coming home! Our tradition of hungover banana pancakes was maintained.

So this past fortnight has been pretty lovely. I do have to say though, I had one occasion where I got pretty upset about the state of the sea one day and the amount of plastic that was in it. The surface was covered. Me and my Mum went in a collected as much as we could for an hour. We filled a bag and five cups. I won’t rant. All I want to say is that we can all reduce, reuse and recycle.

Earth is beautiful and we are ruining it.

Anyway…

Home tomorrow and I get to hug all my gorgeous family! And escape this intense Cypriot heat….

Xx

Roller-ing with the punches

Another glorious week in Cyprus (a.k.a my favourite place in the world).

I’ve filled my time with birds, PhD work and friends. Can’t complain eh?! Monday was the day for my first wetland surveys since being back. I went to two near the West coast of the Island. It was lovely just going by myself. I listened to my music and just embraced the sunshine. It was really windy that day so at one point I just lifted my arms into the air and let the wind hold me up. I laughed, I think it’s good to laugh by yourself. Bird species weren’t out of the ordinary, a lot of coots, some mallards, little grebes and moorhens. There was a gorgeous kestrel scanning the hillside at one site. I watched her for a while. That night I went and stayed with my friend Penny. We had a lovely meze and a few rum and cokes!

Wednesday was probably my favourite day since being back here. I met up with Damla in the morning and we went and checked a lot of Roller nest boxes for chicks to ring. Rollers are probably the most magnificent looking bird on the island, well, either them or bee eaters! (Google both of them because they are beautiful and might just make your day!!). Quite a lot of the nest boxes had chicks. Some of them were pretty huge and had all there turquoise feathers in full show. I won’t lie, Rollers may look beautiful, but of all the birds I have handled (50 species or so!) they are the species that like to poo the most!!! Beautiful yet smelly. They keep their nests very simple. They just line the bottom with a bit of sediment and that is all. No little basket of straw or anything like that. Essentially they just make themselves a little carpet. One nest box just had a skeleton of a chick. It’s things like that that remind you how brutal the animal world is. It is literally a matter of life or death. After an exhausting day I went to Roots Bar to see my fantastic Roots family and Michelle and Paul. It was a fun night filled with laughs. I stayed at Michelle and Paul’s house that night, I think it is safe to say they are my Esentepe parents! The next morning we sat and watched the sea and talked about all sorts. One of my favourite mornings.

Friday morning was more Roller nest box checks. I went with a fellow Kuskor guy, Paul. We checked 8 new boxes but none of them had chicks. Maybe next year…. Had another night at Roots to see Michelle and Paul again. And I got a recipe for raspberry tequila! Need to try that!

Sunday was another Roller day. Me and Paul went and checked 13 nest boxes. 3 of them had Roller chicks! One of them was only a titchy one and it was accompanied by another unhatched egg. It was a pretty long morning but it was nice to get to see the lovely chicks. We also saw a small group of Hoopoe’s which was a nice surprise. (Another bird you should definitely google!). I went for a quick swim at Alagadi to cool off and then went for tea at Roots and watched a bit of an acoustic act that were playing. Didn’t stay too long though. Wanted to get home and relax!

In between all of this birding stuff, it has been election week for Turkey this week. Every day I have heard car horns beeping and music blaring. One day I was caught in a traffic jam of people rallying for their favourite candidate. People literally sit in their cars with their hazard lights on, waving flags and beeping a lot. It was making me smile. They’re very passionate about it. I finally got out of the traffic jam and saw a man riding his horse on a grass covered round-about. I laughed a little bit. I love this Island. It is so random and so unique and it just makes me happy. If I am having a rubbish day there is always something that makes me smile. Yesterday my smiles came from the waves. I waded into the sea and just jumped the waves for a while. Every now and then a big one would could and nearly knock me flying! I laughed to myself again. I think I need to start doing that every day. Find something to laugh about. Even if it’s just myself!

I’m already looking forward to what this week brings me!

X

Plastic.

I was in a fantastic mood yesterday. Listening to Christmas songs, driving to my favourite beaches in Cyprus. The mood faded fast. I arrived at the beaches we call Esentepe 1 and 2. Plastic. Smalls and pleasure beach. Plastic. Tatlısu and Tal Bel… plastic.. you get the idea.

On the first beach, I drew a 2 by 2 meter square and picked up every water bottle lid I could see. There were thirty. THIRTY!! I picked up a handful of sand and wasn’t presented with flecks of golden shells and drift wood remnants, it was plastic. Worn down, tiny bits of plastic. Boulders seemed to be like magnets to the stuff, around the bottom of each huge lump was a wash of plastic. Bottles, lighters, toothbrushes…

Even writing this now it makes me want to scream. What on Earth are we all doing to this beautiful planet?!

I think about the sea turtles, fish, sharks, dolphins and all the other beautiful creatures in the sea. They are surrounded. They’re bloody helpless if you ask me. We’re all members of the Blue Planet, but we’re intoxicating it. In a few years, if you go for a paddle, you won’t come out with sea grass trailing around your ankle, it will be ripped up cement bag strands or plastic bags. Instead of making the painstaking walk down to the shore over pebbles and rocks, it will be plastic bottle lids and chunks of now unidentifiable rubbish. Golden beaches will be a thing of the past. Crystal blue waters too…

I remember the first turtle nest I ever excavated. The first hatchling I pulled from it was stuck in a plastic cup, unable to move. Nice way to start your life eh? Panicked and trapped. I’ve seen balloons in turtle stomachs, fishing wire in their throats. But who cares right? If you can’t see it, it’s not your problem…

I’m ranting, I know. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect, I know I could use less plastic. But I try to cut down where possible.

– I use a metal water bottle. Why on Earth people have to use one use bottles is beyond me….

– I have a canvas bag for my everyday bag, they fit loads in and so they’re great if you do last minute food shops!

– I never use the small plastic bags when picking fresh fruit and veg, just put them in loose!

– I recycle.

– I reuse glass jars and containers (great for food storage and spices).

– And to the women, I have invested in a mooncup, you should take a look…https://www.mooncup.co.uk

I know I could improve my ways. And I will. I am going to buy myself a bamboo toothbrush. That’s my first step.

I think I will stop there.

But I just want to say. Anyone that reads this, please, please, try and think of one thing you could do to reduce your use of plastic. Just one. Let’s make 2018 clean. Let’s keep the planet healthy.

X